Monday, 21 June 2010

Literary Cleanup, book #7



A Queda D'um Anjo - Camilo Castelo Branco (free to read @ Project Gutenberg)


Been wanting to finish this one for quite some time. I had tried to read it before, but I always got stuck in the first few chapters. Now I know it really isn't my fault because the book starts with a whole lot of establishing who the main character is, how he behaves, looks and feels about the world, and in particular, politics. A Queda D'um Anjo is the story of Calisto Elói, a simple man from the Minho region who comes to Lisbon because he's persuaded by his closest friends that he should be in the parliament, setting the example. I won't reveal too much, but I'll say this: the title explains it all. It's a very cutting novel, digging into the worst of our political class - and it is, unfortunately, not dated in the slightest. I read that this book is quite different from what we would expect of Castelo Branco, since he's mainly known for his novels. As the only other one I've read is Amor de Perdição, I can't judge, but I will recommend this, as it is a very easy and gripping read. Also, it has many funny moments, especially when Calisto is just settling in his Lisbon quarters. In one of them, for example, he was feeling a bit under the weather, so he decided to follow the advice of one of his "classics" and drink the reinvigorating water from a fountain in Lisbon. It just so happens that after drinking that water, he felt even worse, which made him look at the book again and see that the cure for an upset stomach (which was caused by the same, possibly polluted water he drank) was drinking some more of that water. That chapter ends with the narrator informing us that from then on, he only drank wine.
Also, note that the cover I used above is not the same as on my edition of the book, but I don't have a scanner here, so that will have to do. Besides, it's much more interesting than my plain blue cover.
The following excerpt is dedicated to my good friend, @jjnopants.


Excerpt:

Fez Calisto uma longa pausa, e prosseguiu, interpolando os dizeres com algumas pitadas, que solenizavam a gravidade das falas.

- Ninguém devera casar sem muito ler e sem aplaudir aqueles preceito do casamento escritos pelo eminentíssimo Plutarco.
- Não conheço - disse a dama... - Li Le mariage, de Balzac.
- Não sei quem é; deve ser francês.
- Pois não leu?
- Eu não leio francês. Não me chega o meu tempo para tirar águas sujas de poços infectos.

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